Fowl, potatoes, squash, corn, stuffing, cranberries… The days of the pilgrims bartering with their neighbors have long passed. In today’s world, you need to be paid in cash – check, credit card, money order or actual, cold, hard cash – not pumpkin pie. Though I think we can all agree a nice slice of pie can go a long way! So what’s the best way to prepare for mealtime and ensure that your table will be set with a bountiful revenue return? Collecting the best information, you possibly can. Simply put, information is the key to setting your table for improved recovery of your delinquent accounts.
The Computer Age has progressed into the Information Age and the possibilities that await in the near future are quite simply mind boggling. So the more information you can gather when your patients are filling out your information requests, or a consumer is filling out your credit application, the better your overall collection numbers will be.*
Slice the pie of diminishing returns into smaller pieces and take the bite out of your aged receivables. What’s the first thing you want to see on your desk tomorrow? A table laden with all the tools for improved recovery can be yours along with the savory flavor of a job well done. All you need are the ingredients to make this a world-class meal. Let’s start with the standard baselines… your sugar, flour and oil if you will:
- Accurate Responsible Name – this is your guarantor, the person responsible for paying the bill.
- Full and Complete Mailing Address – including abbreviations that meet the US Post Office Standards.
- Up-to-Date Phone Numbers – do you have home and mobile? Do you have permission to text or message them? Do you have permission to call their cell phone? Do you have permission to use automated dialing technology when calling this number? Does this permission extend to your third-party vendors? (Need help on this topic? Click here to learn more.)
Then of course are the additional bits of information that will not only help your efforts, but will also help your collection agency recover the hardest of these debts on your behalf. These are your spices that you will use to flavor your dish:
- Social Security Number & Date of Birth – helpful for identity verification, linking patient records, and for credit bureau reporting.
- Parent’s Name or Husband/Wife/Partner’s Name
- Place of Employment – including phone number and direct extension.
- Career “Type” (or Job Title) – even this can be useful in locating someone who has left their job and left you with an unpaid bill, especially in an online world of social media resources, speaking of which…
- Social Media Usernames and Messaging – Millennials cite many different modes of communication in their preferences (least of which includes verbal communication)!
- Personal Email Address - plus permission to use it (for you and your third-parties).
- Unique Identifier - this might be an "Encounter Number" or "Claim Number" or a date of service with a hyphenated number at the end, any which way it is referred to, it is a unique number that is only used once to identify a single office visit. This number is an important piece that helps identifier a specific occurrence and acts as a deterrent to any type of mistaken duplication (whether in multiple placements or simple human error).
All of these pieces of information can help you contact and identify your patients and customers in ways that were improbable or even impossible twenty years ago. Communication strategies will only continue to change and evolve as the future becomes our new reality and being prepared to set your table effectively will be critical to your continued recovery efforts’ success. Besides who wants a table set only to find a bland meal with little taste to whet your palette?
Finally, consider when was the last time you had a truly satisfying dessert? Verifying your patients’ information puts the whipped cream on the pie and completes your illustrious meal! Have you asked your patient to verify their information on file lately? Add this to your “cheat sheet” for greeting an incoming appointment. Phone numbers, addresses and places of employment change more frequently now than ever before, so it’s imperative that you have your patients and customers review their information every six months, if not sooner. With information gathered and verified, your table is set and your meal is ready. Now go enjoy the fruits of your labor!
*This blog post uses language featured in a previous blog post, “Tipping Point #1 – Information Matters” from March 26, 2015.
*This blog post was updated on November 11, 2019 to reflect current interpretations on permission-based communication and updates to data requirements.
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